Hydronic or Steam Boiler Heating Systems – Pros and Cons

Air Conditioning FAQs

If you are looking at a hydronic system, how it works is as follows-

  • Heats water and boiled to certain temperature.
  • Moves through sealed pipes to radiators throughout the home.
  • Gives the home constant warmth.
  • Keeps the chill out of the air as it uses a thermostat.
  • Recirculates hot water.
  • Uses panels or in-slab.
  • Heated by natural gas/solid fuel/LPG.

Pros of hydronic heating systems

  • Hypo-Allergenic meaning less dust.
  • Healthier.
  • It’s completely silent.
  • Highly efficient (up to 95%).
  • Great for ongoing efficiency.
  • Zones the heating to only the areas you want heated.
  • Water is a better heat conductor than air.
  • Uses water which is recycled so you don’t use a lot.
  • Comfortable and gentle heat which warms the whole house.
  • Can leave it running all winter long.
  • Far less expensive energy bills.
  • Reliable.
  • Attractive-huge range of styles and designs.
  • Many come with long warranties.
  • Child proof due to mild temperatures and safe to touch.
  • Wall system doesn’t get too hot to touch
  • Completely silent.
  • Worthy investment over time.

Cons of hydronic heating systems 

  • Initial cost is quite expensive.
  • It only heats and doesn’t cool.
  • Building work involved for installation can be quite pricy.
  • It can take up to half an hour to respond.
  • Retrofitting a hydronic system isn’t recommended for underfloor systems.
  • Doesn’t provide instant heat once turned on.
  • It isn’t as efficient if you put furniture against the panels.

If you are looking at a steam boiler system, how it works is as follows-

  • A boiler is used to create the steam.
  • Steam travels through the pipes in the homes’ walls.
  • Circulates it to radiators.
  • Gives off heat.
  • Warms the room.

Pros of steam heating systems

  • Home is heated evenly.
  • If you have a larger house you can turn off the heat to rooms not being occupied.
  • Can control to certain zones of the home.
  • Virtually silent.
  • Don’t hear air blowing through the vents throughout the day.
  • Cost less to run than forced air systems.
  • Can cut back on overall heating charges.
  • Can be installed underneath floors.
  • Clean.
  • Hypo-allergenic.
  • Less maintenance involved.
  • No filters to change.
  • More comfortable heating such as warm floors in winter.

Cons of steam heating systems

  • Can be more expensive to install.
  • Have to run pipes through the home especially for this system.
  • Takes longer for heat to come on.
  • Waiting time of pipes to warm up which could take quite a while if it’s a cold day.

How the boiler heating systems are installed

  • Radiator panels can be fit to most homes with sub floor access.
  • Pipework is put through subfloor.
  • Finishes at panel location.
  • Include builder’s costs to resurface floors.
  • Installation is simple.
  • Panel with heating element built into subfloor.
  • Covered with a vent.
  • Panel sits in a box.
  • Needs to be well insulated.
  • Vent which covers it can be made of different materials such as aluminium/timber.
  • Can choose timber to match your floors.
  • Timber held together by aluminium frame.
  • Boiler needs a good ventilated outdoor area and pump to circulate water.
  • You may need to consider an upgrade to your gas pipe.
  • You can install a thermostat in one or several locations in the home.
  • Each thermostat control panel is controlled separately per room.
  • If you are installing a new floor, slab heating can be considered.
  • Pipes laid evenly over the slab.
  • Topped with final layer of concrete.
  • Slab then finished/polished with tiles.

How much do the radiator panels cost to install?

As a general indication of price to install, a home with three bedrooms, which has about eight panels and good floor access, would costroughly between $7-10,000. A little less labour costs for a new build. If you were to have in-slab heating, you’d need to allowapproximately $60 per square metre if you were fitting a place with about 120 square metres.

How much will a hydronic heating system cost to run?

  • In a medium sized house of around 160 square metres it may cost about $1045-$1255.
  • They are less to run than other heaters. Roughly 35% per cost effective than running a ducted system.
  • They don’t have star ratings, but higher star ratings can save significant money.
  • These are just average costs.
  • They don’t indicate how long the heater is being used for.
  • You can leave it on all day and running costs will be lower than reverse cycle air conditioning or gas ducted heating.
  • They are less expensive than either reverse cycle or gas ducted systems.
  • You should measure the costs over certain amounts of years and hours it’s being used.

How much will a hydronic heating system cost to install?

  • They can cost anywhere from $2500-$3000.
  • That doesn’t include installation costs.
  • It can take around 12 hours to install a wall mounted system.
  • Installation for that could be anywhere from $695 to $875.
  • Total price could be anywhere between $3470 to $4200.
  • This would be the price for a new home.
  • Because of the labour involved, retrofitting a hydronic heating system may cost more due to the extra labour needed.


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